The Business Benefits of an Online Community

Forums, Q&A platforms, gaming networks, message boards, blogs, review sites are all examples of online communities.  Some of the most successful websites in the UK in terms of users are also examples of highly engaged online communities. Aside from the obvious social networks we all know and love (or not!), think Money Saving Expert, Mumsnet and Reddit.  There are many business benefits of an engaged online community and although creating and maintaining one requires resources and commitment, it is worth the effort.

Get to know your customers better

Social monitoring is a great way to understand your customer base.  Encouraging your customers to interact with each other will help you to identify issues and problems as well as brand advocates.  Understanding what makes your customer tick, what makes them happy, what they don’t like about your product or service is invaluable information when it comes to business development and customer retention.  

Product and brand development

Research new product ideas, test out customer response, research your market.  Access to your customers thoughts and opinions is powerful information when it comes to product development. Asking your existing customers for ideas about new products has the added benefit of building trust in your customer base, if your customers believe you value their opinions you win their trust and increase their loyalty.

Selling without selling

Whether you sell a physical product or not, your online community is a ready made market for your new and existing products and services.  It is said that it costs 6-7 times more to attain a new customer than retain an old one. Soft launches, special offers and beta testing are all great ways to promote your products to your existing customers.

Feedback and reviews

If you want feedback on your products or services, there are few better places to look than in your ready-built online community.  By asking and answering questions and encouraging engagement you will gain valuable insight into your business offering.

Content, Content, Content…

Content is King is a well worn phrase, but for good reason.  The benefits of fresh content on your website’s SEO are huge, a website with a regularly updated blog, for example benefits from 5 x more web traffic on average than those who don’t blog at all, with an increase in inbound links and indexed pages. Online communities create content, online forums and Q&A platforms are great for keeping the fresh, relevant content coming.

Building customer loyalty and trust

Reaching out and communicating with your customer base will increase engagement and trust in your brand.  Trust builds loyalty.  If your customers believe that you can hear them, and respond to them, you are more likely to retain them as a customer and increase their positive feelings regarding your company.

Gamification Benefits

Gamification is the application of game processes in a non-game environment to motivate and engage people to achieve certain goals.  It feeds into our desires relating to status and achievement.  The use of badges, levels, rewards, statuses and privileges are all examples of ways to use gamification strategies to promote loyalty and engagement.  Think about the success of supermarket loyalty cards as a great example of gamification in a business environment.  Providing a reward for engagement is a great way to keep your customers returning to and contributing to your community.

To find out more about building an online community and how DNN CMS can make your community easy to manage and integrate into your website, Contact us for more information.